LIMERICK has lost a shining star, as Shellie Murtagh - who set up an equine education charity for children with disabilities - passed away yesterday morning.
Shellie, who was in her early twenties, established The Shellie Project this year after receiving a Bachelor in Education and a BA in Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College, and after becoming a qualified horse riding instructor with the British Horse Society.
The aim of Shellie’s project was to teach children with disabilities and in the autism spectrum through horse education. This came about after she worked with a boy who was considered “unteachable”, and she started working with him using horse and equine skills.
Speaking earlier this year, Shellie said: “I had been breaking in and training horses whilst at the same time getting experience working with people on the autism spectrum. I encountered one boy who was considered unteachable yet was totally at ease with horses. I started to realise the potential of interacting with this boy using horses and equine skills as the basis for a special type of therapy.”
“I really believe my way of working can present a whole new methodology when it comes to educating children with special abilities in a more appropriate, interesting and enjoyable manner with the aim of providing a better quality of life.”
Owner of Dolan’s pub, Mick Dolan, praised Shellie’s “focused” character and her ability to teach children. He added that she was always the “first person to get up and sing at events”.
“She had planned to bring in dogs into her programme, so she had everything in place. She was even looking for land as well. She was so focused on the whole idea and she really wanted to bring in the kids and really develop on them. She would have done it without a doubt.
“She was a well-known and a well-liked character. She was totally focused on helping people and she was just a strong character,” he told the Limerick Leader.
At a young age, Shellie participated in choirs and as a soloist in both Salesians Primary and Crescent College Comprehensive secondary school. She also reached the All-Ireland final of Scór na nÓg.
Shellie’s main inspirations were Jessie J and Pink for their “feel-good” music.
Shellie, who was from Merval Park, Clareview, is survived by her parents Eamon and Dorothy and brother Sean. She will repose at Thompson’s Funeral Home this Wednesday from 6-8pm, followed by removal to Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Requiem mass will take place at 11am on Thursday.